Walnut Creek & Pea Ridge Battlefields

Trip Start Mar 10, 2012
Trip End Aug 11, 2012

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Flag of United States  , Arkansas
Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15 - by Madison

Today we went to Wilson Creek National Military Park, Missouri in the morning and Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas in the afternoon. When we got to Wilson Creek we went into the Visitor Center to learn about what this place once was.  I learned that this was where one of the first battles in the Civil War took place on April 10th, 1861.  What I thought was really interesting was that Roxanna and John Ray's front yard served as the battlefield.  During the battle, Roxanna and her children, along with Aunt Rhonda, the slave, were in the cellar, and John was sitting on the front porch watching the fighting. After the battle, all of the wounded were brought into the house to be helped.  I thought this was interesting because I was imagining my front yard being a battlefield for a war, and then after the war having a bunch of wounded in our beds having doctors help them!  After we talked to the ranger, we watched the movie to hear more of the history.  During the movie I learned that Nathaniel Lyons was the commander for the Unions and Ben McCulloch war the commander for the Confederates.  Lyons was trying to keep Missouri a Union  state while McCulloch was trying to get the state to become a Confederate state. While they were fighting McCulloch was wounded twice and then killed, and he would be the first General to die in the Civil War.   It was probably because of his death that the Union troops didn’t win this battle.  After we watched the movie we went on a 5 mile bike ride to see where the battle of Wilson Creek took place and the Ray house.  My favorite part of the bike ride was going into the Ray house because I saw what it was like living in the 1860’s and because I saw where all of the wounded men were helped or doctored.  After the bike ride we drove to Pea Ridge National Military Park, Arkansas.  When we got there we learned that this was where the 2nd battle in the Civil War, and it took place, and it was on March 7th and 8th, 1862.  For this battle Earl Von Dorn was the General for the confederates and Samuel Curtis was the general  for the  Union.  Samuel picked where his 'territory’ was and prepared for a front attack.   That means he was preparing for his enemy to approach him from the front.  In the meantime, Earl Von Dorn was not making his territory, he was planning how he was going to attack the enemy.  He planned to attack from the back and west of the Unions territory.  He decided to have McCulloch take a small group to the west of the territory and he would take the attack from the back.  They planned to hike over 60 miles in 2 days and leave all of their extra food and ammunition behind because they were going to win this battle quickly.  Since Earl Von Dorn was on a time schedule he made his men march fast, and some said "I think that sometimes he forgot that we were on foot and he is on a horse".  Some of the men fainted on the way up to the Unions camp, but most of them made it. While the Earl Von Dorn group marching quickly, the McCulloch group was making sure everything was ready.  Even though McCulloch was thinking to himself ‘I don’t know why we are doing this because we aren’t going to win the battle, he followed instructions because he wasn’t in charge any more, so this is what you have to do in the Army.  The Union heard about McCulloch’s approach, so they planned to stop him from coming forward, and they did that by shooting him.  He had told his army to stay back while he figured out the area and the best path to take, and he was shot doing that.  Nobody heard or saw McCulloch die so his troops were waiting for him to give orders for about a day.  Earls group was not doing well either, so when they reached the Union troops they were defeated and Earl was never trusted again. After the movie we went on a 7 mile bike ride around the battlefield, and after that we drove to Oklahoma.  I what I thought was the most interesting was every time one side had an elaborate plan, they always seemed to lose the battle.  I had a really fun day learning about these early battles in the Civil War. 
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